Countdown to the Summit
The country was in a flurry this week as it entered the final days before 16 June's US-Russian summit. The bulk of the activity, however, was done behind closed doors, given that for security and other reasons, the site remains undisclosed. However, unofficial sources say that the list has been narrowed down from four sites to just one: Brdo pri Kranju.
A spokesman for the government's Office of Information told the press that the unanswered question of the summit's site is also a public relations strategy. As first members of the press arrive in Slovenia, they must familiarize themselves with all four potential sites, which could translate into better, more informed coverage of Slovenia in the international press.
Journalists started to show up as early as last week, and according to STA, as of Friday more than 350 local and 200 foreign journalists have received press accreditation. As many as 2000 are expected to be on hand the day of the summit.
So far, the country is showing that it is up to the task of using the summit to promote itself (See: On the Sunny Side of the Alps). The city of Ljubljana is planning a special issue of KAM v Ljubjlana (Where in Ljubljana) events guide in English, and every hour there will be a guided tour of the capital. On Monday, the government opened the official website of the summit, which features information in Slovene, English and Russian.
The national Chamber of Commerce and the Slovene Tourist Organization will both participate in promotional events during the summit, and even Pošta Slovenije is jumping on the bandwagon. The national postal system announced this week that it will issue a commemorative stamp on 14 June, just before the start of the summit.
Predictions on the artificial insemination referendum
The minute attention shifts from the summit, it will land firmly on the 17 June referendum on whether to allow single women access to artificial insemination procedures. Though legislation refusing single women access is a step back from the situation prior to Slovene independence, it appears that the referendum will show the public does not support the idea.
The daily Finance published the results of a public opinion poll this week conducted by the Cati Center and TV Slovenja which support that prediction.
Of the 903 people polled, only 43 percent said they would participate in the referendum, with virtually the same amount saying they are sure they will not participate. Of those who intend to vote, only about 41 percent said they will in favor of allowing single women access, while some 47 percent said they will vote against it.
About 11 percent of those who plan to participate in the referendum were undecided.
More details on the succession agreement
Further details about the agreement on issues related to the succession of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ) reached on 25 May in Vienna were released this week. The parliaments of the five successor states must ratify the document before it will take effect. The Slovene government is expected to ratify it before the end of the month.
Once all five have ratified the agreement, representatives of each state will hold a formal signing ceremony at an undisclosed location. Sixty days after the agreement has been ratified by the fifth signatory, the document will be handed over to a depository, most likely the United Nations.
One of the most significant features of the agreement is the establishment of several working groups to ensure that questions related to succession are solved equitably. Ninety days after the agreement is given over to the depository, the first working groups will begin work, including one on the division of embassies and one on financial questions. Ninety days later, the working group on archives will begin its work dividing the archival holdings of the former joint state.
And in other news...
- On Friday, Delo reported that BMW was no longer considering a plan to built a new Central European plant on a site near Maribor's airport. Still under consideration are sites in three cities in Germany, Kolin in the Czech Republic and Arras in France. The final decision is expected by the end of July.
- Last Saturday, Vojko Slotar became the first Slovene to graduate from the most important military academy in the United States, West Point. Aside from Slotar's family, a delegation including diplomats and military officials from Slovenia also attended the commencement ceremony. Four other Slovenes are currently studying at West Point. In November, Slotar will join the 10th Battalion of the First Professional Brigade of the Slovene army.
- Slovenia's Day of Statehood, 25 June, became an official holiday in the American state of Ohio this week. Governor Bob Taft declared the new holiday on Tuesday at a formal signing attended by dignitaries including Slovenia's General Consul in Cleveland, Tone Gogala. Gogala presented Taft with a Slovene flag, which will fly in front of the State Capitol in Columbus to commemorate the holiday. Ohio is home to one of the largest Slovene ethnic communities in the world, and in the early 1900s, Cleveland was the third largest Slovene city after Trieste (Trst) and Ljubljana.
- Moscow's Lomonosov University celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of its undergraduate program for Slovene language and literature this week. In 1971, the university became the first located outside of Slovenia to offer a major in the subject.
- The first issue of the Society of Serbian Groups' new journal Beseda (Word) was published this week. The journal's articles, on ethnography, history, language and literature, are predominately in Serbian, with one article in the first issue in Slovene. The Society also intends to pay close attention to Serbian-Slovene relations, especially as they affect the approximately 47,000 Serbs in Slovenia. Beseda is published with the assistance of the Ministry of Culture.
Brian J Požun, 8 June 2001
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